By Brad Phillips
In 1997, I started Persecution Project. Through all these years I have had the honor to participate with you in a range of programs and projects to demonstrate “Active Compassion” for the persecuted in Sudan. It has been a journey filled with great joy and pain to come alongside believers who have experienced great loss and undergone intense suffering because of their faith.
We have witnessed so many challenges and changes. As I look back I am overwhelmed by the prayers answered and obstacles overcome. As I enter my 15th year of working in this field, I have never been more excited about the future as I am today.
Of course, there are still many negative things happening right now in the region. The genocidal war and aerial terror campaign against innocent civilians in the Nuba Mountains, Darfur, and the Blue Nile state is a growing calamity that you will continue to hear about from us. We will continue to provide ways in which you can partner with us to bring encouragement and some relief to the suffering.
One of the areas of ministry which I believe will make a long-term impact is in the area of mentoring, training and discipleship.
This January edition of the Africa Messenger provides a window into one of PPF's projects which is designed to be a platform for discipleship, education, training and evangelism. The Jebel Lopit Training Center (JLTC) is a project of PPF that has being initiated in partnership with several other local and international partners including The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM), the Africa Inland Church (AIC) and Diguna-AIC.
The Early Years in Lohutuk (photos from It's a Battle by Sidney Langford)
The purpose of the JLTC is to provide a platform to facilitate programs and projects that will mentor, train, disciple and develop the first generation of leaders in the world's newest nation - South Sudan.
The idea for the JLTC developed as we have watched South Sudan emerge from Africa’s longest war and transition during the last six years to a free and independent country.
Nation-building requires people-building and that is the vision of the JLTC. In order for a people to really be free they must be able to govern themselves.
Self-government begins with individuals, families and churches and reaches to businesses, communities and civil government. Biblical concepts such as “thou shalt not steal” and “thou shalt not covet” are the bedrock of a free society and the foundation for private property and free enterprise. Students who come to the JLTC from all parts of Sudan and Africa will receive foundational teachings that they will take home and use to transform their families and communities.
The JLTC is currently being developed in the community of Lohutuk in Eastern Equatoria State, South Sudan—an ideal location for the JLTC located in the beautiful Lopit mountains.
PPF wants to facilitate the growth and development of leaders to provide a firm foundation for a growing country.
To achieve our vision for this facility, PPF has partnered with the African Inland Church (AIC) and the German Christian organization DIGUNA. DIGUNA’s history in Lohutuk goes back to the late 1970s, but it continues the rich tradition started by African Inland Mission (AIM) which dates back to the 1950s. DIGUNA occupies AIM's old mission station and carries on with ministry outreaches they started before and between the two wars. Together with AIC Sudan, DIGUNA helps run the schools, church and clinic there.
There are presently several DIGUNA missionaries living in Lohutuk, including long-time PPF friend and partner, Stephan Matusik, along with his wife, Iris, and their five children.
Stephan has been a leader in the com-munity for nearly seven years and has built up the DIGUNA mission station to become an important beacon for the gospel in the area.
PPF has supported the community in Lohutuk in various ways for more than a decade including crisis relief, supporting development of a Bible School, primary and secondary schools, a hospital, agricultural projects and other projects.
The land for the JLTC has been donated by the AIC and sits adjacent to the DIGUNA mission station. Utilizing containers, fencing materials and a Hydraform brick machine provided by PPF donors, construction of the JLTC compound and campus is underway!
The JLTC will provide a venue for churches, universities, and other ministries to have a platform for teaching and training. The JLTC will include accommodations for students, volunteers, short or long-term missionaries, teachers, classrooms with VSAT capability for distance learning, a mess hall, a library, storage and access to a range of ministry projects.
Food production is a basic need in South Sudan. Independence means self-reliance. One of the best methods of education is apprenticeship. Toward that end, PPF has initiated a number of “demonstration projects” that are designed to provide mentoring and to teach self-reliance, while addressing real needs such as food production. Growing vegetables and raising chickens are two “demonstration projects” initiated in 2011 in partnership with Diguna and The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM).
Growing vegetables, raising chickens and eggs locally is providing food for the community.
The Hydraform machine which produces “interlocking” bricks is another vehicle for mentoring and training. Housing and food production are two vitally important needs in a poor country with little infrastructure and one which currently relies upon imports for most of its food.
One of the greatest development needs in South Sudan is education. The JLTC will provide a platform for academic, spiritual and business training. Several American universities and educational institutions approached PPF in 2011 and asked to partner with PPF to provide distance learning and short- and long-term courses.
At the beginning of 2011 PPF provided a VSAT (satellite Internet system) to the Matusik family to improve communication for the community there, and we anticipate additional VSAT systems will be installed in 2012 to facilitate distance learning courses at the high school, undergraduate and graduate levels.
During the war in South Sudan PPF worked hard to respond to the immediate needs of the persecuted, such as food, medicine, clean water, etc. During this new era of peace, the JLTC is our attempt to go beyond crisis relief to sustainable development. We want to bless our brothers and sisters in a more substantial way. By providing educational, spiritual, and economic training opportunities, PPF is helping build Africa’s newest nation one person at a time.
As the year 2012 unfolds, we will continue to update you on the progress of the JLTC—and to give you opportunies to get involved directly with our efforts.
God has blessed the people of South Sudan with peace, independence, and an opportunity to prosper. Thank you for your prayers for this ministry and for your role in providing life and hope to so many people.